In 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we spent World Autism Awareness Day in social isolation. However, this does not mean that the date is no longer important. In fact, it is the perfect opportunity to discuss the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the routine changes for children with autism and their families.
Coronavirus and Autism
In our special post on coronavirus and autism, we talked to neurologist Dr. Marcelo Masruha about how the new disease can affect the health of autistic children.
As explained in the text, children and people with autism are NOT at risk for the disease. However, routine changes due to the coronavirus pandemic can have a negative impact on children with autism.
According to psychologist Giovanna Mazzocco, “children with ASD tend to be resistant to change. This puts them in touch with new stimuli, which ends up mentally disorganizing them”.
The importance of routine is a constant issue when we talk about autistic children, especially on World Autism Awareness Day. Moreover, this year, many families are facing the challenge of a new routine with their neuroatypical children.
The importance of routine for autistic children
Giovanna Mazzocco reminds us “all subjects benefit when they follow a routine. However, in the case of autistic children, having this routine becomes even more important. It is what gives you a certain predictability about events”.
For children and neurotypical people, the situation of social isolation can generate stress and anxiety. In addition, in the case of children and autistic people, this change in routine can generate even more stressful and even aggressive behavior.
The psychologist indicates some actions so that families with autistic children can try to alleviate the situation. “Even now during quarantine, it is important to provide a minimum of predictability about the events that will occur during the day. It is extremely important to maintain some activities that were already carried out before, such as school activities and still propose activities with the child”, says Giovanna. “This can be done through visual aids with images of what will be done throughout the day, in order to help the child to organize themselves mentally”.
The lack of therapies during the coronavirus
Another change in the routine of children with ASD is the absence of therapies at this time.
Many families have the support of different professionals, such as psychologists, physiotherapists and speech therapists for the development of their children. Nevertheless, given the current circumstances, many therapists have stopped their services indefinitely.
We know that it is not possible completely replace the performance of these professionals. However, Giovanna Mazzocco psychologist reminds us “the whole situation at home can be a learning opportunity”! In this way, the child continues to be stimulated and learned during the period of isolation.
Activities for autistic children in quarantine
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) brings together techniques and tools widely used in the treatment of autism. Moreover, they can be of great help even in this period.
Mazzocco says “it is important to propose cooperative activities or with resources that you have at home and that can be adapted”. The psychologist adds: “the insertion of some tasks contributes to the establishment of the ability to play independently. In it, the child engages independently. And so it prevents negative behaviors from occurring due to leisure and the need for attention, also favoring concentration”.
In this video, Giovanna Mazzocco and a psychologist Joice Andrade recommend some of these activities. They can be performed at home and bring benefits to autistic children. Check out!